In September 2011 I was commissioned to do this major architectural work of the interior of Gladstone's Library in Hawarden Flintshire - well actually, originally I was commissioned to do the exterior but once I had seen the beautiful vaulted wooden interior, I rashly said "yes, I would like to do that!". Many times in the days and weeks that followed I thought maybe the task was impossible to achieve in Batik but I like a challenge and I was very determined not to give up.
Each bookcase - and there were a great many, I treated as separate 'mini' Batiks with their own colour scheme.
I wanted the books to be the 'stars of the show' so I used strong bright colours for them as a contrast to the gentle browns I had used for the wood.
One of my favourite bits of the whole thing was the beautiful carved vaulted roof. I cracked the wax on the old beams before applying the last colour (black) to give the effect of age.
1st stage was to draw the design in pencil onto the fine Egyptian cotton cloth
Here it is after all the colour layers are on and waxed. The only areas of cloth not waxed are the ones to be dyed black - the last colour.
The final stage was to scrape off all the surface wax and iron out the rest, to reveal the finished Batik. The wax which remains in the fibres of the cloth makes the piocture translucent, so when you light it from behind it shows the vibrancy and depth of colour like in a stained glass window.
Over a month later, and after several sleepless nights trying to work out the best colour combinations, the Batik was finished. While I was working on it, my children used to ring up and ask how the 'masterpiece' was coming on. The interior of Gladstone's Library is stunning. It was designed by John Douglas and opened in 1902 as a memorial to Gladstone and to house his vast collection of books. It is said that John Douglas also referred to the library as his 'masterpiece'.
The finished work is on display, back-lit in the dining room of Gladstone's Library where not only can you sit and admire it, but you can get a really good lunch!
On May 22nd 2012 we had the official unveiling of the picture, combined with the opening of the 'Robinson Room' which holds the complete collection of books belonging to my father, the late Bishop John Robinson (of 'Honest to God' fame). It makes me ridiculously proud, as the least intellectual and least godly of all his children, to have my work on display in the same place as his.
The Library is open to the public and visitors to Gladstone's Library can buy a range of products featuring the original Batik.